So let’s tell the story of why I didn’t play the Final Fantasy IV remake on the DS, and the convoluted story that is the sequel to the original. Because by my own rules, it could be argued that the remake is closer to being the default for Final Fantasy IV now, especially as that’s what’s up on Steam at the moment.
See, when Final Fantasy IV was being remade, the developers had a clever idea. If the players wanted more story, why not give it to them? Why not have a companion piece produced showing what happened after the events of the main story, showing the next generation of characters many years down the road?
Final Fantasy IV: The After Years started life on mobile phones, then as a series of downloadable installments. On the PSP, the whole thing was packaged into a single game, which essentially took the remake version that was released for the Gameboy Advance (i.e. minus the improvements in the DS release) and added a new feature. Which brings us to today’s piece, a bonus piece of content between Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, bridging our way to a sequel that I’m pretty sure no one needed.
The game doesn’t really tell you where your destination will be for the final confrontation, but it seems pretty obvious from the sheer sparsity of options about where to go on the moon’s surface. A quick trip to the Crystal Palace allows the party to walk into the back and access the space beneath the moon’s surface, complete with the power of the crystals guiding everyone or whatever. One suspects that the game was getting a bit bloated by this point.
The Lunar Subterrane is big and sprawling, but not quite so much as the last boss rush in Final Fantasy III; you can actually exit, for one thing, which right away makes the experience very different and gives you more reliable control over the encounters you’re facing. More to the point, you can save before the final boss rather than simply praying for rain. It’s not the apex of the sprawling final dungeons that would become a regular series thing later in the franchise, but this one is big and meant to be tackled in stages.
The Lunar Whale is clearly the spiritual equal to the Invincible from Final Fantasy III; there’s an onboard Fat Chocobo, a free inn, all of that fun stuff. But more importantly, it’s our ticket to the moon! We’re on the moon! Yay!
What were we going to do on the moon again? I mean, I know Golbez wanted to get to the moon, but do we know why he wanted to get to the moon or what he planned on doing once he arrived on the moon?
Leaving aside that I’m pretty sure an angry fight broke out on the Lunar Whale as someone asked that question, there’s a store up here that sells Elixirs and Ethers, and there’s a big crystalline palace just sitting there that seems like the place to visit. So we find a place to park the Whale, get out, and head into a castle just outside of it. With only the slightest bit of concern, at that. I mean… I remember what happened the last time I entered a cave near an otherwise isolated tower of crystal. It wasn’t necessarily a fun ride. Stupid Cloud of Darkness.
After a brief stop at the Dwarven Castle to drop things off with the fattest possible chocobo, it’s time to head to the Feymarch! To do that, I’m sure we’ll have to penetrate a cunning illusion that hides this mystical land, surely secreted away from mortal voyagers, kept behind a veil of – oh, we just fly due west for a couple of minutes and then land on an island.
I suppose this at least answers the question of how Rydia got underground to save the party before, although how she crossed all of that lava is a different question. Maybe she’s a really good jumper.
The Passage of the Eidolons looks a lot like the Sylph Cave but with its colors swapped; to its credit, that actually feels very different and ominous. Lots of hard-hitting enemies in here, but that’s to be expected, since we’re not supposed to actually be here until later in the game. (Probably. Sidequests, you know how they go.) At least we no longer have to deal with Malboros and constant Sleep effects, although the Confusion that can be tossed around is pretty annoying.
Here we are, back at the tower again, assaulting it in the hopes of accomplishing… something. I’m not entirely clear on what the heroes plan to actually do here. On one level, we’re sort of chasing Rubicante, or Edge certainly is; on another level, it’s one of those situations wherein the plot has stepped back to allow the player to keep moving forward based solely on what’s available to access. Since the Tower of Babil features rather prominently in Golbez’s plan, I suppose anything that involves us screwing with it is probably a good thing.
It is neat that you see this tower from two sides, though, with this run starting closer to the top while the previous one started at the bottom. Edge helpfully ninja-moves us into the tower proper, and the group can start heading toward… wherever Rubicante is now. Hey, maybe he he still has the crystals! That would be a good thing. Let’s go with that as our motivation, then.